Traction engine
Overview
 
A traction engine is a self-propelled steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

 used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at a chosen location. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it. They are sometimes called road locomotives to distinguish them from (railway) steam locomotive
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

s – that is, steam engines that run on rails.

Traction engines tend to be large, robust and powerful, but heavy, slow, and have poor manoeuvrability.
Encyclopedia
A traction engine is a self-propelled steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

 used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at a chosen location. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it. They are sometimes called road locomotives to distinguish them from (railway) steam locomotive
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

s – that is, steam engines that run on rails.

Traction engines tend to be large, robust and powerful, but heavy, slow, and have poor manoeuvrability. Nevertheless, they revolutionized agriculture and road haulage at a time when the only alternative prime mover was the draught horse.

They became popular in industrialised countries from around 1850, when the first self-propelled portable steam engines for agricultural use were developed. Production continued well into the early part of the 20th century, when competition from internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

–powered tractors saw them fall out of favour, although some continued in commercial use in the UK into the 1950s and later. All types of traction engines have now been superseded, in commercial use. However, several thousand examples have been preserved worldwide, many in working order. Steam fairs are held throughout the year in the UK, and in other countries, where visitors can experience working traction engines at close hand.

Traction engines were cumbersome and ill-suited to crossing soft or heavy ground, so their agricultural use was usually either "in the belt" – powering farm machinery by means of a continuous leather belt driven by the flywheel – or in pairs, dragging an implement on a cable from one side of a field to another. However, where soil conditions permitted, direct hauling of implements ("off the drawbar
Drawbar (haulage)
A drawbar is a solid coupling between a hauling vehicle and its hauled load. Drawbars are in common use with rail transport, road trailers, both large and small, industrial and recreational, and with agricultural equipment.-Agriculture:...

") was preferred – in the US, this led to the divergent development of the steam tractor
Steam tractor
A steam tractor is a vehicle powered by a steam engine which is used for pulling.In North America, the term steam tractor usually refers to a type of agricultural tractor powered by a steam engine, used extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.In Great Britain, the term steam tractor...

.

History

Limits of technical knowledge and manufacturing technology meant that practicable road vehicles, powered by steam, did not start to appear until the early years of the 19th century.

The traction engine, in the form recognisable today, developed partly from an experiment in 1859 when Thomas Aveling modified a Clayton & Shuttleworth
Clayton & Shuttleworth
Clayton & Shuttleworth was an engineering company located at Stamp End Works, Lincoln, Lincolnshire. The company was established in 1842 when Nathaniel Clayton formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Joseph Shuttleworth .-History:...

 portable engine
Portable engine
A portable engine is a small steam engine, mounted on wheels or skids, which is used for driving machinery using a belt from its flywheel. It is not self-propelled and is towed to the work site by horses or bullocks, or even a traction engine. Portable engines were used mainly for driving...

, which had to be hauled from job to job by horses, into a self-propelled one. The alteration was made by fitting a long driving chain between the crankshaft and the rear axle.

Other influences were existing vehicles which were the first to be referred to as traction engines such as the Boydell engines manufactured by various companies and those developed for road haulage by Bray. The first half of the 1860s was a period of great experimentation but by the end of the decade the standard form of the traction engine had evolved and would change little over the next sixty years.

Until the quality of roads improved there was little demand for faster vehicles and engines were geared accordingly to cope with their use on rough roads and farm tracks.

Right through to the first decades of the twentieth century, manufacturers continued to seek a solution to realise the economic benefits of direct-pull ploughing and, particularly in North America, this led to the American development of the steam tractor
Steam tractor
A steam tractor is a vehicle powered by a steam engine which is used for pulling.In North America, the term steam tractor usually refers to a type of agricultural tractor powered by a steam engine, used extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.In Great Britain, the term steam tractor...

. British companies such as Mann's and Garrett
Richard Garrett & Sons
Richard Garrett & Sons was a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, steam engines and trolleybuses. Their factory was Leiston Works, in Leiston, Suffolk, United Kingdom.The company was active under its original ownership between 1778 and 1932....

 developed potentially viable direct ploughing engines, however market conditions were against them and they failed to gain widespread popularity. These market conditions arose in the wake of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 when there was a glut of surplus equipment available as a result of British Government policy. Large numbers of Fowler ploughing engines had been constructed in order to increase the land under tillage during the war and many new light Fordson F tractors had been imported from 1917 onwards.

Decline

Road steam disappeared through restrictions and charges that drove up their operating costs. Through 1921, steam tractors had demonstrated clear economic advantages over horse power for heavy hauling and short journeys. However, petrol lorries were starting to show better efficiency and could be purchased cheaply as war surplus; on a busy route a 3-ton petrol lorry could save about £100 per month compared to its steam equivalent, in spite of restrictive speed limits, and relatively high fuel prices and maintenance costs.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s there were tighter restrictions on road steam haulage, including speed, smoke and vapour limits and a 'wetted tax', where the tax due was proportional to the size of the wetted area of the boiler; this made steam engines less competitive against domestically produced internal combustion engined units (although imports were subject to taxes of up to 33%). As a result of the Salter Report
Salter Report
The Salter Report was named after Arthur Salter, who chaired an influential conference of road and rail experts in 1932. The report directed British government policy for transport funding for decades to follow.- Railways :...

 on road funding, an 'axle weight tax
Vehicle excise duty
Vehicle Excise Duty is a vehicle road use tax levied as an excise duty which must be paid for most types of vehicle which are to be used on the public roads in the United Kingdom...

' was introduced in 1933 in order to charge commercial motor vehicles more for the costs of maintaining the road system and to do away with the perception that the free use of roads was subsidising the competitors of rail freight. The tax was payable by all road hauliers in proportion to the axle load and was particularly restrictive on steam propulsion, which was heavier than its petrol equivalent.

Initially, imported oil was taxed much more than British-produced coal, but in 1934 Oliver Stanley
Oliver Stanley
Oliver Frederick George Stanley MC, PC was a prominent British Conservative politician who held many ministerial posts before his early death when it was expected he would soon assume higher office....

, the Minister for Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

, reduced taxes on fuel oils while raising the Road Fund charge on road locomotives to £100 per year, provoking protests by engine manufacturers, hauliers, showmen and the coal industry. This was at a time of high unemployment in the mining industry, when the steam haulage business represented a market of 950,000 tons of coal annually. The tax was devastating to the businesses of heavy hauliers and showmen and precipitated the scrapping of many engines.

The last new UK-built traction engines were constructed during the 1930s, although many continued in commercial use for many years while there remained experienced enginemen available to drive them.

Preservation

From the 1950s, the 'preservation movement' started to build up as enthusiasts realised that these lumbering beasts were in danger of dying out. Many of the remaining engines were snapped up by enthusiasts, and restored to working order. Traction engine rallies began, initially as races between engine owners and their charges, later developing into the significant tourist attractions that take place in many locations each year. It has been estimated that over two thousand traction engines have been preserved.

Operation

See: steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

 for a description of how the actual engine worked


Although the first traction engines employed a chain drive, it is more typical for large gears to be used to transfer the drive from the crankshaft to the rear axle.

The machines typically have two large powered wheels at the back and two smaller wheels for steering at the front. However, some traction engines used a four-wheel-drive variation, and some experimented with an early form of caterpillar track
Caterpillar track
Continuous tracks or caterpillar tracks are a system of vehicle propulsion in which modular metal plates linked into a continuous band are driven by two or more wheels...

.

A simple animation showing the steam cycle of a traction engine, the operation of the valve gear and the reversing mechanism, may be found here:.

Types and usage

Traction engines saw commercial use in a variety of roles between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Each role required a machine with a different set of characteristics, and the traction engine evolved into a number of different types to suit these different roles.

Agricultural (general purpose) engine

The most common form in the countryside. They were used for hauling and as a stationary power source. Even when farmers did not own such a machine they would rely upon it from time to time. Many farms would use draught horses throughout the year, but during the harvest, threshing contractors would travel from farm to farm hauling the threshing machine
Threshing machine
The thrashing machine, or, in modern spelling, threshing machine , was a machine first invented by Scottish mechanical engineer Andrew Meikle for use in agriculture. It was invented for the separation of grain from stalks and husks. For thousands of years, grain was separated by hand with flails,...

 which would be set up in the field and powered from the engine – a good example of the moveable stationary engine.

US (agricultural) traction engine

Favourable soil conditions meant that US traction engines usually pulled their ploughs behind them, thereby eliminating the complexities of providing a cable drum and extra gearing, hence simplifying maintenance. American traction engines were manufactured in a variety of sizes, with the 6 nhp Russell being the smallest commercially made, and the large engines made by Russell, Case, and Reeves being the largest.

Ploughing engine

A distinct form of traction engine, characterised by the provision of a large diameter winding drum driven by separate gearing from the steam engine. Onto the drum a long length of wire rope was wound, which was used to haul an implement, such as a plough, across a field.

The winding drum was either mounted horizontally (below the boiler), vertically (to one side), or even concentrically, so that it encircled the boiler. The majority were under-slung (horizontal), however, and necessitated the use of an extra-long boiler to allow enough space for the drum to fit between the front and back wheels. These designs were the largest and longest traction engines to be built.

Mostly the ploughing engines worked in pairs, one on each side of the field, with the rope from each machine fastened to the implement to be hauled. The two drivers communicated by signals using the engine whistles.

A variety of implements were constructed for use with ploughing engines. The most common were the balance plough and the cultivator
Cultivator
A cultivator is any of several types of farm implement used for secondary tillage. One sense of the name refers to frames with teeth that pierce the soil as they are dragged through it linearly. Another sense refers to machines that use rotary motion of disks or teeth to accomplish a similar result...

 - ploughing and cultivating being the most physically demanding jobs to do on an arable farm. Other implements could include a mole drainer, used to create an underground drainage channel or pipe, or a dredger bucket for dredging rivers or moats.

The engines were frequently provided with a 'spud tray' on the front axle, to store the 'spuds' which would be fitted to the wheels when travelling across claggy ground.

The man credited with the invention of the ploughing engine, in the mid-nineteenth century, was John Fowler
John Fowler (agricultural engineer)
John Fowler was an English agricultural engineer who was a pioneer in the use of steam engines for ploughing and digging drainage channels...

, an English agricultural engineer and inventor.

Ploughing engines were rare in the US; ploughs were usually hauled directly by an agricultural engine or steam tractor
Steam tractor
A steam tractor is a vehicle powered by a steam engine which is used for pulling.In North America, the term steam tractor usually refers to a type of agricultural tractor powered by a steam engine, used extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.In Great Britain, the term steam tractor...

.

Steam tractor (US)


In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, the term steam tractor usually refers to a type of agricultural
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 tractor
Tractor
A tractor is a vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction...

 powered by a steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

, used extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Steam tractor (UK)

In Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, the term steam tractor is more usually applied to the smallest models of traction engine – typically those weighing seven tons or less – used for hauling small loads on public roads. Although known as light steam tractors, these engines are generally just smaller versions of the road locomotive.

They were popular in the timber trade in the UK, although variations were also designed for general light road haulage and showman's use.

The most popular of these designs was probably the Garrett
Richard Garrett & Sons
Richard Garrett & Sons was a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, steam engines and trolleybuses. Their factory was Leiston Works, in Leiston, Suffolk, United Kingdom.The company was active under its original ownership between 1778 and 1932....

 4CD, meaning 4 nominal horse power Compound
Compound locomotive
A compound engine unit is a type of steam engine where steam is expanded in two or more stages.A typical arrangement for a compound engine is that the steam is first expanded in a high-pressure cylinder, then having given up heat and losing pressure, it exhausts directly into one or more larger...

.

Road locomotive

Designed for haulage of heavy loads on public highways, it was common for two or even three to be coupled together to allow heavier loads to be handled.

The characteristic features of these engines are very large rear driving wheels fitted with solid rubber tyres, three-speed gearing (most traction engine types have only two gears), rear suspension, and belly tanks to provide a greater range between the stops needed to replenish water. All these features are to improve the ride and performance of the engine, which were used for journeys of hundreds of miles. Most road locomotives are fitted with a winch drum on the back axle. This can be used by removing the driving pins that secure the rear wheels, allowing the drive train to power the winch drum instead of the wheels.

A number of road locomotives are fitted with a crane
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

 boom on the front. The boom pivot is mounted on the front axle assembly and a small winch
Winch
A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in or let out or otherwise adjust the "tension" of a rope or wire rope . In its simplest form it consists of a spool and attached hand crank. In larger forms, winches stand at the heart of machines as diverse as tow trucks, steam shovels and...

 is mounted on an extension to the smokebox in front of the chimney, the cable passing over a sheave
Sheave
A sheave is a wheel or roller with a groove along its edge for holding a belt, rope or cable. When hung between two supports and equipped with a belt, rope or cable, one or more sheaves make up a pulley. The words sheave and pulley are sometimes used interchangeably.A sheave can also refer to a...

 at the top of the boom arm. The winch is powered by bevel gears on a shaft driven directly from the engine, with some form of clutch providing raise/lower control. These road locomotives can be used to load a trailer as well as to haul it to a new location. They are often referred to as 'crane engines'.

A particularly distinctive form of road locomotive was the Showman's engine
Showman's road locomotive
A Showman's road locomotive or showman's engine is a steam-powered road-going 'locomotive' designed to provide power and transport for a travelling fair or circus...

. These were operated by travelling showmen both to tow fairground equipment and to power it when set up, either directly or by running a generator. These could be highly decorated and formed part of the spectacle of the fair. Some were fitted with a small crane that could be used when assembling the ride.

Steamroller


Another distinct form of the steam traction engine, used for road building and flattening ground. Typically designed with a single heavy roller replacing the front wheels and axle, and smooth rear wheels without strakes.

Some traction engines were designed to be convertible: the same basic machine could be fitted with either standard ('treaded' or tyred) road wheels, or else smooth rolls – the changeover between the two being achieved in less than half a day.

Relatives of the traction engine

A number of other steam-powered vehicles share design features with the traction engine, usually because the same technology was re-used in a new application.

Portable engine

A portable engine is a type of self-contained steam engine and boiler combination that may be moved from site to site. Although bearing a strong family resemblance, in both appearance and (stationary) operation, the portable engine is not classed as a traction engine as it is not self-propelled. However, it is included in this list because the traction engine is a direct descendant.

Steam wagon

A steam wagon is a steam
Steam
Steam is the technical term for water vapor, the gaseous phase of water, which is formed when water boils. In common language it is often used to refer to the visible mist of water droplets formed as this water vapor condenses in the presence of cooler air...

-powered road vehicle for carrying freight. It was the earliest form of lorry
Lorry
-Transport:* Lorry or truck, a large motor vehicle* Lorry, or a Mine car in USA: an open gondola with a tipping trough* Lorry , a horse-drawn low-loading trolley-In fiction:...

 (truck) and came in two basic forms: overtype and undertype – the distinction being the position of the engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

 relative to the boiler
Boiler
A boiler is a closed vessel in which water or other fluid is heated. The heated or vaporized fluid exits the boiler for use in various processes or heating applications.-Materials:...

. The overtype had a steam engine mounted on top of a fire-tube boiler
Fire-tube boiler
A fire-tube boiler is a type of boiler in which hot gases from a fire pass through one or more tubes running through a sealed container of water...

, in a similar manner to a traction engine. The front of an overtype steam wagon bears a close family resemblance to traction engines, and manufacturers who made both may well have been able to use some common parts.

Steam wagons were the dominant form of powered road traction for commercial haulage in the early part of the twentieth century, although they were a largely British phenomenon, with few manufacturers outside Great Britain. Competition from internal-combustion-powered vehicles and adverse legislation meant that few remained in commercial use beyond the Second World War.

Traction engines as railway locomotives

Several traction engine builders (such as Aveling and Porter
Aveling and Porter
Aveling and Porter was a British agricultural engine and steam roller manufacturer. Thomas Aveling and Richard Thomas Porter entered into partnership in 1862, developed a steam engine three years later in 1865 and produced more steam rollers than all the other British manufacturers combined.-The...

 and Fowler
John Fowler & Co.
thumb|right|John Fowler & Co. [[steam roller]] of 1923John Fowler & Co Engineers of Leathley Road, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England produced traction engines and ploughing implements and equipment, as well as railway equipment. Fowler also produced the Track Marshall tractor which was a...

) built light railway locomotives based on their traction engines. In their crudest form these simply had flanged steel wheels to enable them to run on rails. More sophisticated models had the boiler and engine mounted on a chassis
Chassis
A chassis consists of an internal framework that supports a man-made object. It is analogous to an animal's skeleton. An example of a chassis is the underpart of a motor vehicle, consisting of the frame with the wheels and machinery.- Vehicles :In the case of vehicles, the term chassis means the...

 which carried railway-wagon style axles. The rear axle was driven from the engine by gear or chain-drive. These unusual locomotives were sold to small industries for use in shunting and marshalling duties, although they also found favour with engineering firms engaged in the construction of mainline railways for hauling men, equipment and materials over the partly constructed line.

Terminology

  • spud or lug – strip of angled metal that could be bolted to the driving wheels to provide greater traction on soft or heavy ground. Spuds were often required on ploughing engines when moving across farmland.

  • strake – name for the diagonal strips cast into or rivetted onto the wheel rims to provide traction on unmade ground (similar to the tread on a pneumatic tyre).

  • Nominal horse power– nhp is the typical way that traction engines are rated. However, it has long been accepted that nominal horse power understates the actual power of the engine. There are many ways to estimate the actual horse power but none of them gives an accurate answer, for example, a 4 nhp engine is said to be approximately 36 hp; however a 4 nhp engine can happily pull a laden 8-wheeler lorry while a diesel engine of 36 hp cannot. Thus, many have resigned themselves that this debate will never be settled and, while nominal horsepower gives a very appropriate way of rating traction engine, it may never be converted accurately into diesel HP.

Modern use

Although no longer used commercially, traction engines of all types continue to be maintained and preserved by enthusiastic individuals and are frequently exhibited at agricultural shows in Europe (particularly the UK), Canada and the United States. They are often a main attraction in a live steam
Live steam
Live steam is steam under pressure, obtained by heating water in a boiler. The steam is used to operate stationary or moving equipment.A live steam machine or device is one powered by steam, but the term is usually reserved for those that are replicas, scale models, toys, or otherwise used for...

 festival (see List of steam fairs).

Model traction engines, powered by steam, are manufactured by several companies, notably Mamod
Mamod
The Mamod company is a British toy manufacturer specializing in building live steam models. The company was founded in 1937 in Birmingham in the British midlands by Geoffrey Malins. The name is a contraction of Malins Models'. The first models produced were of stationary steam engines, the company...

 and Wilesco
Wilesco
Wilesco is the trade name of German toy company Wilhelm Schröder GmbH & Co. KG, known for manufacturing live steam toys such as steamrollers, traction engines, and stationary steam engines....

. Larger scale model engines are popular subjects for model engineers to construct, either as a supplied kit of parts, or machined from raw materials.

Traction engines in popular culture

On film
  • The 1962 film The Iron Maiden featured a showman's engine as the film's star, along with many others, at the annual rally at Woburn Abbey
    Woburn Abbey
    Woburn Abbey , near Woburn, Bedfordshire, England, is a country house, the seat of the Duke of Bedford and the location of the Woburn Safari Park.- Pre-20th century :...

    .

  • In the 2004 film Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
    Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
    Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is a 2004 straight to video movie, that premiered January 2, 2004 on the Sci-Fi channel. It is the fourth film in the Tremors series of monster films. It is a prequel to the earlier movies.-Plot:...

    , the people of Rejection, Nevada had a traction engine and were proud of it. When they were forced to abandon their town, the engine was going to be used to pull two wagons. During the final battle, two of the characters fired their guns from on the traction engine; and the traction engine was used to kill the last Grabiod by ramming it with such force against the front of the engine, it was decapitated.


In literature
  • Trevor the Traction Engine
    Trevor the Traction Engine
    Trevor the Traction Engine is a fictional anthropomorphic character from The Railway Series children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry, and the spin-off TV Series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends....

    is one of the non-railway characters featured in The Railway Series
    The Railway Series
    The Railway Series is a set of story books about a railway system located on the fictional Island of Sodor. There are 42 books in the series, the first being published in 1945. Twenty-six were written by the Rev. W. Awdry, up to 1972. A further 16 were written by his son, Christopher Awdry; 14...

     of children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry. Appearing in several of the books, the traction engine was originally 'saved from scrap' by The Vicar of Wellsworth with the help of Edward the Blue Engine
    Edward the Blue Engine
    Edward the Blue Engine is a fictional anthropomorphic steam locomotive from The Railway Series children's books by the Rev W. Awdry, and the related TV Series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. He is a blue 4-4-0 tender engine with red stripes, about the same size as James the Red Engine, and has...

    . Trevor has also appeared in a number of episodes in the TV spin-off Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
    Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
    Thomas and Friends is a British children's television series, first broadcast on the ITV network in September 1984. Until 2003, it was named Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. This series was shot on 35mm film...

    .


  • In the book Gumdrop and The Farmer's Friend, by Val Biro
    Val Biro
    Val Biro , children's author, artist and illustrator, was a native of Hungary now resident in Sussex in England. He received his education in Budapest and London...

    , the vintage motor-car Gumdrop is rescued from a snowy ditch by "The Farmer's Friend", a traction engine belonging to a local farmer. Some months later, the two vehicles are instrumental in thwarting a pair of car thieves.
    The end-papers of the book include a simplified cut-away drawing of the traction engine: a single-cylinder, 6 nhp Fowler
    John Fowler & Co.
    thumb|right|John Fowler & Co. [[steam roller]] of 1923John Fowler & Co Engineers of Leathley Road, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England produced traction engines and ploughing implements and equipment, as well as railway equipment. Fowler also produced the Track Marshall tractor which was a...

     light tractor, built in 1903.


On television
  • Fred Dibnah
    Fred Dibnah
    Frederick "Fred" Dibnah MBE , born in Bolton, was an English steeplejack and eccentric with a keen interest in mechanical engineering who became a cult television personality....

     of Bolton
    Bolton
    Bolton is a town in Greater Manchester, in the North West of England. Close to the West Pennine Moors, it is north west of the city of Manchester. Bolton is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the...

    , England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

     was known as a National Institution in Great Britain
    Great Britain
    Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

     for the conservation of old traction engines and other steam engines. His television series, Fred Dibnah's Made in Britain, shows him touring the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     in his rebuilt, 10 ton
    Ton
    The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

     traction engine.
  • In the television play Threads
    Threads
    Threads is a British television drama produced by the BBC in 1984. Written by Barry Hines and directed by Mick Jackson, it is a documentary-style account of a nuclear war and its effects on the city of Sheffield in northern England....

    , depicting the consequences of nuclear war in the United Kingdom, traction engines come back into use as petrol becomes unavailable.

See also

  • History of steam road vehicles
    History of steam road vehicles
    The history of steam road vehicles describes the development of vehicles powered by a steam engine for use on land and independent of rails; whether for conventional road use, such as the steam car and steam waggon, or for agricultural or heavy haulage work, such as the traction engine.The first...

  • Live steam
    Live steam
    Live steam is steam under pressure, obtained by heating water in a boiler. The steam is used to operate stationary or moving equipment.A live steam machine or device is one powered by steam, but the term is usually reserved for those that are replicas, scale models, toys, or otherwise used for...

  • Steam car
    Steam car
    A steam car is a light car powered by a steam engine.Steam locomotives, steam engines capable of propelling themselves along either road or rails, developed around one hundred years earlier than internal combustion engine cars although their weight restricted them to agricultural and heavy haulage...

  • Steam roller
  • Steam tractor
    Steam tractor
    A steam tractor is a vehicle powered by a steam engine which is used for pulling.In North America, the term steam tractor usually refers to a type of agricultural tractor powered by a steam engine, used extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.In Great Britain, the term steam tractor...

  • Museum of English Rural Life
    Museum of English Rural Life
    The Museum of English Rural Life is a museum dedicated to recording the changing face of farming and the countryside in England. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books.The museum is run by the University of...

     (MERL) – UK national collection of history of farming
  • List of steam fairs – where preserved traction engines may be seen in action

Research


History


Preservation


Further information

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